'PM mistaken that Hamas-Fatah unity is game-changer'

This week's 20 Questions hosts Tovah Lazaroff, JPost correspondent recently returned from Europe with Netanyahu. She tells of her experiences and her views on upcoming Congress speeches.

20 questions 58 (photo credit: courtsey)
20 questions 58
(photo credit: courtsey)
This week’s 20 Questions hosts Tovah Lazaroff, a senior correspondent at The Jerusalem Post.
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Lazaroffrecently returned from a trip to Europe with Prime Minister BinyaminNetanyahu. When we asked what it was like traveling with the premier,Lazaroff admitted that as an ardent fan of the US television show The West Wing, her expectations may have been slightly exaggerated.
Nevertheless, Lazaroff says it was an adventure, and driving throughthe streets of Paris in the PM’s motorcade was an experience that shewon’t easily forget.
With regards to the purpose of the trip, Lazaroff says that the PM’sprimary goal was to “target” French President Nicolas Sarkozy andBritish Prime Minister David Cameron. Britain and France hold 2 out of5 votes in the United Nations Security Council which may call for theunilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in September.
When asked if she herself believes that such a declaration will bemade, Lazaroff asserts that prior to the recent Hamas-Fatah unity deal,the Palestinians had a clear path to a unilateral state. Even though inlight of this a unilateral declaration seems less likely than it was,there is a tremendous desire from the international community to givethe Palestinians their own state.
Lazaroff believes that the US is still a strong partner for Israel.While American politicians have been halting funds to the Palestinianssince the unity deal, the Europeans on the other and, have beentransferring them.
We asked Lazaroff what she thinks will be said in the upcoming Congressspeeches. She predicts that US President Barack Obama will limithimself to simply outlining the principles we’ve heard before: for thetwo sides to negotiate an agreement, for Israel to stop construction inthe settlements and for the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s securityconcerns.
Insofar as Netanyahu’s much anticipated speech on May 24, media punditshave been speculating that as a result of the unity deal the speechwill not be a “Bar Ilan II” – i.e. Netanyahu will not propose a newdeal for peace. Lazaroff postulates that the reason for this is thatthe PM, along with the rest of Israel, believes that the unity deal wasa game changer. This, she says, is a critical mistake.
For the international community, the deal hasn’t changed anything, andNetanyahu must keep that in mind when he speaks to Congress. Hiscentral argument thus far has been that the Palestinians are trying toseparate Palestinian statehood from peace, but that can no longersuffice on its own.
Lazaroff opines that the PM will be ill-advised to simply leave it atthat and must offer an alternative. In her words, “You can’t stand inWashington and say ‘don’t do this’ without also saying ‘do thatinstead.’”
Lazaroff postulates that from Hamas’ perspective, their recentannouncement stating that they will accept a state on 1967 lines (asopposed to all of Israel) is already concession enough. With this inmind, she doesn’t see much chance of land swaps occurring, despiteIsrael’s expectations.
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